The Science of People is curated by Vanessa Van Edwards who travels around the country sharing the latest research with audiences.
As an acclaimed writer and behavioral investigator, Vanessa is a professional people watcher—speaking, writing and cracking the code of interesting human behavior for audiences around the world.
Vanessa is a published Penguin author and a Huffington Post columnist. She regularly gives keynotes and appears in the media to talk about her research.
The Science of People works with companies, brands and individuals on how to use body language, nonverbal communication and human lie detection in the business environment.
MO: Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to become a professional people watcher?
Vanessa: I was going through an intense negotiation and had a bad feeling I was missing something. When I cross-checked some of the facts I realized the other side was completely lying to my face. Two realizations hit me in that moment—first, people lie all the time (as I found out later, about 2 to 3 times during a ten minute interaction) and second, I had to equip myself to read body language to prevent against dishonesty. So, simply put, I got started in this field because people were lying to me and I wanted to find a way to stop it.
MO: What is a “Value Language” and how can gaining a basic understanding of this concept help our readers more effectively manage and deal with the various people they encounter in their private and personal lives?
Vanessa: A Value Language is what drives someone to make life choices, what gets them up in the morning and informs their goals and actions. I have found 10 value languages so far. Everyone has a value language, and understanding what someone’s value language is can not only help you understand where they are coming from, but also enable you to better predict the way people are going to act. For example, if someone’s value language is “relationships”, they constantly talk about who they know. They are motivated more by a prestigious connection over an end of the year bonus.
You can see all of the value languages in my article for Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2012/10/09/want-to-cope-with-annoying-colleagues-speak-their-language/
MO: Can you talk about how the use of body language research can help to improve sales, human resources efficiency and management?
Vanessa: Only 7% of our communication is verbal. 93% of our communication is through body language, voice tone and facial expressions. So, if you aren’t thinking about body language you are missing out on using 93% of your communication ability. Knowing this has changed my life and my business and is how I am able to help clients radically change their sales and leadership abilities. Imagine if you are a motivational speaker or a leader. You think about the words you say during your presentations or interactions. But what if you could know the body language science of persuasion and motivation? Your communication would become exponentially more valuable, memorable and powerful.
MO: What’s been the most surprising fact that you’ve discovered through your research?
Vanessa: I love studying the body language of power. Most entrepreneurs are what I call, Alphas. They exude powerful body language and people around them automatically know they are leaders. Some people are born with this ability; others have to learn it. I was fascinated to learn that people who are not born with natural power body language can just as successfully adopt it and get the same effect. Alphas also need to learn how to not agitate people or be too aggressive with their body language.
MO: Any tips for our readers when it comes to reading body language and learning how to spot lies and hidden emotions?
Vanessa: If I could fit those tips into a paragraph, I would be out of work! It is much more complicated than many people realize, but can be learned. Body language, detection deception and nonverbal behavior reading are based in both art and science. All of my tips, advice and methods are based in academic research but the application of such science must be applied artfully. When learning how to lie detect you cannot just point a finger and yell, “LIE!” So, reading hidden emotions and then knowing how to interact with that info is key. If you want some easy tips, I have some free videos and articles on my website! (ScienceofPeople.org)
MO: Parenting and family relationships are one of your specialties. Can you elaborate on how you use science’s perspective when it comes to help in the areas of parenting, children and teens?
Vanessa: Many parents complain that as their teens enter into the teen years they shut down and stop communicating with their parents. In this way, I help parents read their children’s nonverbal behavior when their verbal behavior is on the decline. This helps parents keep communicating with their children and know what their children are feeling as they grow into the difficult teen years.
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